Monmouth Medical Center (MMC), an RWJ Barnabas Health facility, was looking to promote their comprehensive screenings and advanced colorectal procedures to prevent, diagnose and treat a variety of colorectal conditions and in support of the “80% by 2018” national initiative, led by the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, which aimed to reach 80% of adults aged 50 and older screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.
Colorectal cancer is the nation’s second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths and is one of the only few cancers that can be prevented through proper screenings, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 59% of people of screening age participate in the screenings available today.
There are a lot of misconceptions that surround colorectal cancers, including that it is a disease that primarily affects older people. In reality, those under the age of 50 are at risk and it is starting to appear in younger and younger demographics.
Due to embarrassment or perceived discomfort, people avoid scheduling proper colorectal cancer screenings and even avoid just talking about colorectal cancers screenings.
R&J developed a media relations strategy designed to position MMC’s physicians and services as leaders in colorectal care and prevention within its key service areas. The program also focused on educating the local community on the importance of colorectal screenings and how to maintain colorectal health while highlighting its commitment to the “80% by 2018” initiative. The media relations plan encompassed a range of local and regional coverage highlighting personal patient stories and expert commentary from MMC physicians.
An infographic was developed by R&J Strategic Communications for MMC to utilize onsite in their facility and to compliment media coverage to help educate the local community. The infographic outlined key facts to know about colon cancer, the signs of colon cancer, ways to lower your risk of developing colon cancer as well as the screening options available at MMC in a visually appealing and easy to read way.
To establish authority among MMC’s key audiences, R&J Strategic Communications also developed a robust thought leadership program by creating and managing an official MMC contributor account for submitting content to the hyper-local Patch.com sites. R&J used the platform to highlight physician expertise as well as to provide readers with key information about colon health. Topics included: Answers to top colorectal cancer prevention questions, the minimally invasive screening and surgical techniques that can prevent colon cancer, clarifying common myths about colon cancer, exploring the rising rates in millennial colon cancer, the role of genetics in developing colorectal cancer and more.
Within a month, the campaign generated 69 media placements, including NJ Spotlight, The Asbury Park Press and APP.com and on Ocean County’s 92.7WOBM radio station.
R&J posted blog content to 16 different Patch sites from March through June. The blog program generated 491,329,868 impressions among target audiences.
When the 80% by 2018 initiative was introduced in 2014, the screening rates had reached a plateau nationwide. Today, they are on the way back up. In 2016, the national screening rate had jumped more than five percent since the launch of the 80% by 2018 campaign. The Monmouth Medical Center physicians felt the program helped to increase awareness and break the stigma of talking about colon cancer. Although only a piece of the nationwide numbers, the positive impact on the rate of colorectal screenings that the Monmouth Medical Center colorectal cancer and screening awareness media relations campaign had is something that R&J is proud of.